Now that I’ve mentioned Freeview, I might as well also mention the quality of the LE32B550’s standard definition scaling. Which follows other Samsung TVs of late in being really strikingly good, adding sharpness and detail without stressing noise; avoiding the old soft look that used to characterise Samsung’s standard def images; and keeping colours looking almost as natural and dynamic as they do with HD.
Despite its standard def prowess, though, it’s definitely with HD that the LE32B550 really shines, as the already mentioned dynamism of the picture is joined by some excellent sharpness and detailing, be it with Sky HD broadcasts or, especially, a selection of our favourite Blu-rays.
I’m relieved to be able to say as well that the image’s impeccable sharpness is surprisingly little affected by LCD’s motion blur problems, despite the lack of any 100Hz processing. What’s more, the general lack of motion blur or smearing holds good even when you’re watching standard definition.
It really is difficult to find any fault with the LE32B550’s pictures at all, given how cheap it is. The only things I can really come up with are that black levels reduce if you watch from an angle, and that you need to spend a little time calibrating the TV when you first get it. Though even here the effort you need to put in isn’t as extensive as it used to be with older Samsung TVs, thanks to the addition of a decently thought-through Natural mode.
The bad news with the LE32B550 is exclusively saved for its audio performance. For there’s no denying that the down-firing speakers tucked somewhere within the TV’s frame are pretty uninspiring. They deliver basic ‘chatty’ TV fine, but fail to open up much at all to handle the demands of action scenes, leaving them sounding rather flat and uninvolving.
Despite only having adequate audio, the Samsung LE32B550’s superb pictures are more than enough in themselves to justify the set’s amazingly low sub-£400 asking price. In fact, I’d even say the set goes beyond Toshiba’s 32AV635D in being the biggest bargain of the year so far.
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